NORFOLK -- Eleven sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship Wasp are being discharged from the Navy for using the synthetic drug Spice. At least two others on the Norfolk-based ship face similar charges, according to a Navy spokesman.
The sailors, who range in rank from seaman to petty officer 2nd class, were not identified by name. They were swept up in an investigation launched in October after a crew member reported finding the banned substance in a work area aboard the ship.
The Navy released details about the investigation Tuesday following inquiries by The Virginian-Pilot. The Wasp returned to Norfolk Naval Station on Monday after assisting with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New York and New Jersey.
The sailors are the latest of hundreds dismissed in recent years for Spice, a synthetic drug that mimics the high from smoking marijuana. Its use has grown among the ranks in part because it doesn't show up in drug screens. In April, 13 sailors aboard the destroyer Mahan were kicked out for Spice.
The Navy has taken a hard-line, zero-tolerance policy against synthetic drug use. Each sailor on the Wasp attended an educational session on Spice use and was required to sign a document acknowledging they had been informed of the consequences, said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman for Naval Surface Force Atlantic.
The two sailors still awaiting non-judicial disciplinary action are accused of possessing 2C-I, another increasingly popular synthetic drug known as "smiles," Urban said.
The investigation is ongoing, Urban said. The sailors were disciplined before the ship embarked on its humanitarian mission to New York, he said.